Seeking to assist the Arab immigrant population in the Greater Buffalo region, a group of Arab American community members founded ACCESS of Western New York. Since 2005, ACCESS of WNY has developed into a champion of immigrant and non-immigrant families, providing necessary services to combat poverty among low income families within the community and improve their quality of life – with a particular focus on youth. As part of our mission to spotlight the work of our incredible grantee partners, we recently spoke with ACCESS of WNY’s Executive Director Gamileh Jamil to gain an insider’s perspective of the organization.
CAAP: What are some recent organizational accomplishments that stand out?
Gamileh Jamil: ACCESS of WNY celebrated our 10 year anniversary this year and received congratulatory proclamations from several public officials, including the Mayor of Buffalo. Additionally, ACCESS of WNY received other accolades earlier this year including a special recognition from the John R. Oshei Foundation, and our LEAP Summer Program was highlighted by the Erie County Youth Bureau.
CAAP: What are some exciting, upcoming initiatives at your organization?
Gamileh: We’re excited about a few initiatives at ACCESS of WNY. One goal we have is to become a more mobile agency – meeting people with the most needs where they are. Youth in our after-school program plan to paint a mural of one community in collaboration with a local artist. Finally, we are working on launching the Propelling Individuals Towards Autonomy (PITA) Program. This program will help individuals support their families by seeking employment that pays a living wage.
CAAP: What is your organization’s role in empowering the Arab American community?
Gamileh: As the only Arab American agency in the region, our role is to empower the community by setting the bar high through innovative initiatives, and by creating and implementing best practices.
One specific example of how we empower Arab Americans is the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, which is a successful model for increasing the availability of healthy food in corner stores. There are over 200 Arab American corner store owners in our region. We have worked diligently to incorporate culturally infused education and bilingual support for store owners, and have successfully helped to open 4 “healthy corner stores,” all owned by Arab Americans.
CAAP: How has funding from CAAP propelled your organization towards fulfilling its mission (overall funding, not just the most recent grant)?
Gamileh: ACCESS of WNY understands that social media and website design represent who we are as an organization. We felt that our former website did not do justice in representing our organization adequately. With the CAAP funding, we are currently in the process of designing and developing a new mobile responsive site that is user friendly and modern. We are truly grateful for CAAP’s support and belief in our mission – thank you!
CAAP is proud to work with ACCESS of WNY to empower the Arab American community of Buffalo, NY! To view all of our 2016 grantees, visit our grants database. To see more of our grantee spotlights, check out our blog.